China’s Xi calls for calm

Pres­i­dent urges U.S., Py­ongyang to avoid es­ca­lat­ing cri­sis

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Eric Tal­madge

KOREA» Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping made a plea for cool-head­ed­ness over es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions be­tween the U.S. and North Korea in a phone con­ver­sa­tion with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Sat­ur­day, urg­ing both sides to avoid words or ac­tions that could worsen the sit­u­a­tion.

The call came af­ter Trump un­leashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea on Fri­day, declar­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary “locked and loaded” and warn­ing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he “will re­gret it fast” if he takes any ac- tion against U.S. ter­ri­to­ries or al­lies.

Trump has pushed China to pres­sure North Korea to halt a nu­clear weapons pro­gram that is near­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity of tar­get­ing the United States. China is the North’s big­gest eco­nomic part­ner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t com­pel Py­ongyang to end its nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams.

The White House said in a state­ment that Trump and Xi “agreed North Korea must stop its provoca­tive and es­ca­la­tory be­hav­ior.” It also said that the two “re­it­er­ated their mu­tual com­mit­ment to de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula.”

State-run China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion quoted Xi as telling Trump the “rel­e­vant par­ties must main­tain re­straint and avoid words and deeds that would ex­ac­er­bate the ten­sion on the Korean Penin­sula.”

But re­straint was not the word of the day on Fri­day as Trump sent out a cas­cade of un­scripted state­ments, in­clud­ing what ap­peared to be an­other red line — the mere ut­ter­ance of threats — that would trig­ger a U.S. at­tack against North Korea and “big, big trou­ble” for Kim.

North Korea’s Minju Jo­son news­pa­per, mean­while, lashed back at the U.S. in an ed­i­to­rial Sat­ur­day.

“The pow­er­ful revo­lu­tion­ary Paek­tu­san army of the DPRK, ca­pa­ble of fight­ing any war the U.S. wants, is now on the standby to launch fire into its main­land, wait­ing for an or­der of fi­nal at­tack,” it said. DPRK stands for North Korea’s of­fi­cial name, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea.

Life on the streets of the North Korean cap­i­tal, Py­ongyang, also re­mained calm.

There have been no air raid drills or cars in cam­ou­flage net­ting as has been the case dur­ing pre­vi­ous crises. State-run me­dia en­sures that the pop­u­la­tion gets the North Korean side of the story, but doesn’t con­vey any sense of in­ter­na­tional con­cern about the sit­u­a­tion.

U.S. of­fi­cials say they will be go­ing ahead with long-sched­uled mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea. Py­ongyang says it will be ready to send its mis­sile launch plan to Kim for ap­proval just be­fore or as the drills be­gin.

Called Ulchi-free­dom Guardian, the ex­er­cises are ex­pected to run Aug. 21-31 and in­volve tens of thou­sands of Amer­i­can and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air. North Korea claims the ex­er­cises are a re­hearsal for war, but Wash­ing­ton and Seoul say they are nec­es­sary to de­ter North Korean ag­gres­sion.

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